Potomac: Chapstick, the Healing Cat

Potomac: Chapstick, the Healing Cat

Carole Funger with Chapstick

Carole Funger with Chapstick

The mysteries of life are all around us. Sometimes the most inexplicable things happen. So it goes with the story of the sudden death of a beloved child and the unexpected appearance of a starving cat. While neither could ever be replacement for the other, the synchronicity of these two events cannot fail to inspire. Life is infinitely bigger than we can possibly grasp. So the story goes.

A long time ago there was a young girl named Katie. She was beautiful and blond with bright blue eyes and a joyful zest for living. While she didn’t have a traditional job like her other teen friends, she came to work in a house where there were three little girls who were looking for someone just like her. In no time the group developed a bond like no other.

Katie and her three little charges loved to take walks in the woods at Katie’s grandmother’s farm and eat spaghetti with her parents. They spent lots of time at the mall snacking on ice cream, looking in store windows and playing with pet store animals. On Halloween, they visited the haunted forest; Katie driving in her beat-up old station wagon with the peeling wooden strips on the side, strips that the youngest of the three little girls loved to peel when Katie wasn’t looking.

Their older “sister” Katie showered the little girls with many gifts, including little stuffed animals and especially chapsticks in every color and flavor imaginable. Katie carried a large satchel bag with her everywhere on their outings filled with the tiny lip-glosses for the girls. She always stored her bag on a special chair in their home.

Then suddenly one day Katie was gone. A phone call came one afternoon, shattering the lives of the little girls. There would be no more visits to their home by their older “sister.”

Soon after this horrible day, an emaciated cat arrived at the door of the girls’ home. He had black and white fur, large green-toned eyes and a penetrating stare. He hid by the back door behind a row of bushes, refusing to go away. Although he was scared and appeared unfriendly, when the little girls offered him some food, he ate from their hands as if he had known them all along.

The starving cat helped to lift the little girls’ spirits. Surely, they cried, this must be a sign from Katie, come to tell them she was OK? After a few days, the cat had taken up permanent residence by the back door, patiently waiting each day for the girls to come outside and play. The little girls lost no time in convincing their parents to keep him. The little cat had found a home.

No sooner had the cat entered the home, than he ran directly to the special chair where Katie had kept her bag. He nestled deep into the cushion where the satchel full of chapsticks had always laid, curling himself tightly into a little ball. During those first weeks, he left the chair only to eat or play briefly with the little girls.

There could be no doubt as to his name. The girls named the cat Chapstick. People who knew the story came to see him and were comforted by his presence. He lived for 20 years with the family, holding on patiently to life until the last little girl left for college.

While we will never know if he was truly sent by their older “sister,” Chapstick’s timely appearance helped to soothe the three little girls’ wounds and provide furry comfort throughout their growing years. With his wondrous arrival, he reaffirmed the continuous nature of all living things.